Food is memories. That’s what my sister wrote in an email to me this morning after she watched the movie, 100 – Foot Journey, last night – Her email comments inspired me to write today. Thanks sister 🙂
I just love food and learning anything about food, but have been a bit frustrated and stymied because some of our old food memory recipes don’t work for the whole family anymore. Stubbornly, I don’t want to give up on these food memory foods; therefore, I decided to figure out how to re-engineer our most favorite family recipes… with a little re-work, re-invention, and responsible food sourcing…I’m inspired again and coming up with products that work for our dietary needs today…it’s turned out to be a feel-good journey too.
The first recipe I’ve re-done is Mom’s yam (or sweet potato) biscuit recipe. For over 30 years, Thanksgiving at our family’s homes have included a petite yam biscuit served with her homemade pumpkin butter. In the late 1970’s, Mom, (Betty), had taken cooking classes where she came away with petite bite recipes for her catering business. Many of those stuck with the family as favorites for holiday dinners, happy events (cocktail parties or showers), and offered at tea time. These yam biscuits hit a chord with all of us as a must have served with the Italian chicken soup course on Thanksgiving day.
Our niece has taken over the helm as the yam biscuit and pumpkin butter maker for our holiday dinner (often for over 25 guests). With a new baby in tow, we shared duties this year…her pumpkin butter was the best I ever remember consuming. For the yam biscuits (we often substitute with organic sweet potatoes as they are delicious and easier to source), I substituted the flour and fat historically called for to ensure everyone at the table could comfortably consume the biscuits, slathered with her stunning pumpkin butter. We have gluten-fee, soy free, sodium reduced diet needs to accommodate. The old recipe called for all purpose flour (wheat) and Crisco (soybean oil) … I substituted with William Sonoma’s Cup for Cup Gluten-free (wheat free) flour and chilled Kerrygold Grass-fed Unsalted Butter (soy free). While a bit of a sticky, challenging dough resulted…the biscuits were just fabulous…and everyone could eat them. We cut them small (1 1/2″ round) so they instigate your appetite and don’t fill you up. Although my nephews can eat a dozen at a sitting 🙂
Below is the new recipe…gluten free, soy free and even me…the diabetic… can happily fit one into my meal plan.
Organic sweet potato biscuit prepared with gluten free flour and grass-fed butter
Sweet Potato Biscuit
I suggest baking them just prior to serving as they are sooo good served hot (or you can bake them ahead and heat them for a few minutes on a low temperature just prior to serving).
The first time we learned of these biscuits was at a Southern foods cooking class. They were served with a slice of country ham and honey mustard—a savory little “slider” that’s perfect for tea time.
Makes approximately 24 ( 1 1/2”) biscuits.
PREP TIME: 10 minutes TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes (including prepping yam and baking time)
Preheat oven to 400° F.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (substitute with Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour).
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup Crisco® shortening (substitute cold butter – I used Kerrygold unsalted)
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
Approximately ¾ cup mashed yam, boiled or baked, then mashed and cooled (substitute with sweet potatoes – use organic if available).
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Cut in shortening (or cold butter) until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add yam/sweet potato and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives.
Add cream to form a soft dough that holds.
Lightly knead and pat down onto a floured surface to ¾” thick, cut into rounds using 1 ½” to 2” cutter. Do not use a rolling pin…use our hands to lightly pat down. Rustic looking biscuits are cute :-).
Bake in a buttered pan or sheet pan lined with parchment or Silpat® at 400° F for 18 to 20 minutes.
Serve hot with butter and sliced country or baked ham or with pumpkin butter.
My darling husband has claimed that the best gift I ever got him was his Nespresso coffee machine. The second best, his soda stream for creating his own sparkling water – yay, no more lugging home cases of Pelligrino from Costco. However; he says my latest gift to him ranks right up there too… our new Breville citrus juicer. He is just in love with it and is “citrus” juicing up a storm…meyer lemons primarily. Breville products are outstanding in function and design. This juicer is much larger in size than we expected, but boy, does it get the juices flowing. It’s addicting. Once you start, it’s hard to stop.
Our new Breville Citrus Juicer…beautiful design, stainless steel, easy to clean..a bit large for the counter—actually rather “giant”
Last week, he juiced more lemons than needed, so I snagged a cup and made my infamous, tart, lemon curd, the recipe is here. It’s quick to prepare…don’t sweat the seeds or lumps, as you will strain the end product to come out with a smooth, luscious curd.
Silky, smooth lemon curd…straining out any lumps, seeds, or bumps.
This prompted me to fulfill a few requests from friends for scones…so I threw together a batch (takes all of 10 minutes) and I had instant gifts for two of my scone and lemon curd-loving friends (after I taste tested a few, of course). Note: my favorite little biscuit scone (recipe here). Chunks of butter show and the dough is light and fluffy (not rolled or flattened), this makes for a delightfully light texture in your scone.
Of course, this curd and scone is lovely with a cup of tea…in particular a Jasmine Pearl green tea. Enjoy.
My favorite biscuit scone…note the chunks of butter …these make for a nice texture…and the dough is light, fluffy (not rolled down)…again, makes for a finished product that splits apart easily to take on your curds, creams, and jams…
Petite crab cakes…since I was making really small cakes, I wanted a recipe packed with flavor; therefore, I broke away from my regular recipe and went to Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook, using her Classic Crab Cake recipe along with her Chili – Lime Aioli. Flavor punch came from the habanero chili peppers & lime juice in the aioli and the jalapeños in the crab mixture
Functional, clean, and attractive… the appetizer spoons are a great vehicle to serve individual bites with sauce…(a side benefit of the spoon as vehicle?…it certainly eliminates the potential of someone “double dipping into the sauce bowl :-)” )
I love serving foods in simple, yet interesting ways. Our dear friends (who are Dutch) brought us these lovely and functional bent-handled spoons from Holland. They were a good fit for serving these spicy crab cake appetizers last weekend. Each time I use these spoons, I think of them and smile, because from the day I met J & J (20 years ago), being around them has felt like “home.”
I used this small scoop to shape my crab mixture to fit perfectly onto these spoons
While I served these little cakes with champagne for guests prior to dinner…today I had the few leftovers at tea time with a light oolong tea. Spicy foods pair well with green teas. Next time you enjoy Asian foods at your favorite Asian restaurant, take note of the teas they serve…usually oolongs or light green teas. These teas pair well with dishes with heat from chilies and other spicy flavors.
Shellfish goes really well with oolong and green teas…smoked salmon, shrimp, and lobster flavors are enhanced with the clean, simple, pure taste of these teas also.
One of the beautiful things about having so many choices in types of teas and tea infusions is that you can always find one that enhances your dish…some combinations just take a food bite to another level. Taste teas with food…enjoy tea…drink tea. It’s good for you!
Green eggs…in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day – green tinged foods may be fun for Americans; however, the color harkens to a darker time for the Irish
My family enjoys gathering and celebrating… St. Patrick’s Day was one of our mother’s favorite days to bring us together, (she regularly reminded us that she was one-quarter Irish).
These days, my sister and niece alternate hosting the dinner. This year, our Sammycakes surprised us with these utterly delicious deviled eggs…colored green. The yolk /filling was soooo silky smooth and perfectly seasoned – I could have consumed a dozen (I stopped at 4).
Seeing these made me wonder why green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day. In doing a little research, I discovered this interesting blog post written by Maria Godoy, at NPR’s The Salt food blog, where the history of the great Irish famine and the correlation to green foods are described…
“The Irish celebrate their patron saint on March 17, green food has bitter connotations that recall the nation’s darkest chapter, says historian Christine Kinealy.
The reason, Kinealy explains, is the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, which forced so many Irish to flee mass starvation in their homeland in search of better times in America and elsewhere. Those who stayed behind turned to desperate measures.
“People were so deprived of food that they resorted to eating grass,” Kinealy tells The Salt. “In Irish folk memory, they talk about people’s mouths being green as they died.”
At least 1 million Irish died in the span of six years, says Kinealy, the founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Which is why, for an Irishwoman like Kinealy, who hails from Dublin and County Mayo, the sight of green-tinged edibles intended as a joyous nod to Irish history can be jolting, she says.” From The Salt, NPR blog, post written by Maria Godoy.
The “wearing of the green” is associated to the “shamrock” and various Irish historic activities which are said to have begun around 1640. The 3 leafed shamrock referenced the Catholic holy trinity, later “the green” was adopted by the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick. The holiday is celebrated on March 17 as that is the recognized death day of St. Patrick. Originally it was a religious feast day and has extended into being a celebration day of Irish culture.
While many Irish are somewhat bemused by how joyous the American’s have made St. Patty’s Day, most celebrate and have embraced much of American’s enthusiasm.
A few additional facts about the Irish…they consume more tea per capita than any other recorded population. Irish breakfast tea is the type of strong black tea that holds up well to milk and is one of my favorites — particularly with a scone or Irish soda bread. Each year, I make my mom’s Irish soda bread recipe…as doing so, I am flooded with great memories of making dozens of loaves with her. A favorite remembrance for me is toasting the leftover bread and slathering it with butter the next morning. Below is this year’s effort. I bake my soda bread in a soufflé dish we received as a wedding gift a couple decades ago. It makes a beautiful, rustic-looking loaf. What’s wonderful about this bread is that it takes about 15 minutes to put together…It’s a quick bread!
Tea With Betty’s Irish soda bread…baked in my favorite soufflé dish…using Irish…grass fed…Kerrygold butter of course 🙂
Food trends fascinate me. A few years ago, the highly acclaimed baker, Nancy Silverton (and co-owner of the Pizzeria Mozza Restaurants) put Butterscotch Budino on her menu…she got rave reviews for this tasty pudding…and all of a sudden we started seeing budino’s and butterscotch on dessert menus everywhere we went. Beets is another item that has made the rounds on menus – various varieties, colors, sizes, & cooking methods are offered as the golden or red beet may be pickled, smoked, roasted, or served raw… along with their leaves too.
When in Napa Valley, I love to walk to The French Laundry (TFL) gardens in Yountville…located directly across the street from Thomas Keller’s famed restaurant. After visiting this winter…I predict the humble radish to be the food trend we see adorning plates everywhere…from bulb to leaf. The gorgeous TFL gardens were prolific with baby broccoli, chives, nantes carrots and more…but the radishes really caught my attention…while I was not familiar with most of these varieties, I can see why TFL likes them…they offer a crisp texture, pungent, peppery flavor and plenty of color lending themselves to be a valued addition to almost any plate.
The French Laundry Winter Garden…featuring…the radish…a cool season vegetable that is easy to grow. Takes three weeks to harvest.
The French Laundry Restaurant…unassuming, easy to drive by and miss
A stunningly beautiful February morning at TFL Gardens and hothouse…radishes — baby carrots — baby lettuces — the veg is honored here
Nutritional information about the radish … One cup is just 19 calories, 4 grams of carb., 29% of your recommended daily vitamin C and 7% fiber…there are also several minerals, including potassium.
So, what’s your radish? My preference is to enjoy them thinly sliced or julienned over a fresh salad…my husband can sit and eat several whole ones as a snack. However you choose, using them offers a little more depth to a dish…either in texture, crunch, color, and that bit of peppery flavor.
Three types of radishes…tender and peppery and crunchy
Happy Valentine’s Day…
My good buddy and “sounding board”, Hils, loves my biscuit scones. She is quite a disciplined eater, but will indulge when it’s worth it. These scones are worth it…top with a tart lemon curd and you’ve got the perfect, decadent pairing. I made heart-shapes and used White Lily Flour …which we discovered at Surfas. The signage claimed that this soft winter wheat, light flour is what makes Southern biscuits and Southern baking sooooo wonderful. The flour is really fine..feels a bit like cornstarch and certainly made an outstanding scone. I love using this product. We baked a batch with all-purpose flour too and tasted them against the ones made with White Lily…both were excellent, the Southern scone was lighter and a bit flakier, very nice. There was a bit more texture to the ones made with my general, all-purpose flour (which my husband actually preferred…and he’s the Southern one ?!*# 🙂 ). We will bake with the White Lily a few more times and let you know our findings.
Heart-shaped scones made with White Lily flour…a Southern favorite
Packaged and ready to deliver to Hils…
O.K…all she needs is a nice cup of tea with these …
I still have some old Martha Stewart gift boxes w/ wrapping that we got 5 years ago when in New York and at her t.v. show…makes great Valentine gift wrapping.